A few years ago my daughter Kirsten gave me this Matteo Pericoli book.
It sits on the shelf near my writing table. On the other side is a window facing the alley. It is my window view just as Pericoli’s line drawings present window views from the apartments of 63 notable New Yorkers who also give a few words about what their windows reveal. Rosanne Cash, David Byrne, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Junot Diaz.
From my table I can look into much of our neighbor’s backyard. Last night I looked up from reading and saw a little girl in that yard just as she looked up from play and saw me. It’s a bit unnerving to see another person see you. We both looked away.
Paul Goldberger writes in his introduction to The City Out My Window that the drawings and statements give “to some extent, a comment about privacy, and the tension between public and private life that is an essential element of city existence.” I find it so.
The front room of our home faces the street. I enjoy watching the street scene out of the window. A beautiful sycamore tree. The tower of St Francis a quarter mile away. Brick buildings across the street in sunlight by day and streetlight by night. And people walking along the sidewalk that is no more than ten feet away from our window. Sometimes we happen to see each other seeing each other. I hear their conversations, St Francis’ clock bell on the quarter hours, the wind rustling the sycamore.
Upstairs our window faces the same direction as the window by my writing table. But from it I never view neighbors. It provides a static scene of buildings in which only the weather is changeable.
Just now. St Francis tolls nine bells.
Within the hour, before I climb upstairs, I will look at the bell tower. It and the sycamore and the night lit brick walls will serve as my urban ‘Good Night Moon’.
My city view will help bring closure for the day. Just as does the setting sun in an outdoors life.